Monday, November 21, 2011

Karl Dean's bad form: Mayor's Office robbed Peter to pay Paul to pay Judas

The fact that Nashville is doing what none of its sister "hockey towns" is doing--subsidizing arenas for their pro clubs--is lousy enough. I agree with those of you who may be irritated by propping up athletics aristocrats in lean budget years.

But a tidbit buried deeper in this news is far worse than the fact that we bend over backwards to cater to corporate welfare. The Preds have been made accomplices in Karl Dean's mission to transfer Metro wealth in the form of tax revenues from the services devoted to streets, parks, libraries, neighborhoods and public safety to construction of the Music City Center.

Essentially, the Mayor's Office is raiding the General Fund (which pays for the services we demand of our local government in exchange for our taxes) to cover losses in subsidies to the Nashville Predators that were being paid by tourist taxes now redirected to construction of the Music City Center:

city leaders say it’s time for a change [in paying the Preds $7,800,000 out of the General Fund], especially considering the stress on the Metro budget. Amid whispers of a possible property tax increase, Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews said it would be difficult to justify continued subsidies for a professional hockey team out of the operating budget.

Until last year, the subsidy was funded by tourism taxes and fees, but that revenue now goes to pay the debt for the new convention center.

Many of us warned over and over again that regular Nashvillians would be the truly disadvantaged of the convention center construction project, because our services would eventually be cut to obligate General Fund revenues to pay the huge cost. Rich Riebeling connived quite a shell game to cover the Music City Center drain on our resources without appearing to pay for construction with the General Fund. But that is exactly what has been happening.

It is time to shelter the General Fund services we enjoy from being bled out by Music City Center pipe dreams. The Mayor must end the subsidies to the Nashville Predators. If he does subsidize hockey the money should come from tourism taxes.

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